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Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 08:55 AM   #1
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Let's create a "lesson plan"

I'm not sure if this goes here in OTHER or perhaps MONEY AND FIRE.

I am not a professional teacher. I am not a licensed teacher. But I've been teaching one subject or another, for one agency or another, since 1975. I am considering approaching several school boards in the area with a proposal to teach an "elective" class titled "Real Life 101". Because as far as I can see NOBODY is prepping these kids for what happens outside of school and the spoon-feeding they are enjoying now.

So I am enlisting the wisdom of the collective to assist me in creating a lesson plan. Suggestions for inclusion are being sought. But please remember that I am aiming this material at 17 and 18 year olds. There will be no books to buy, no assigned reading, and the only homework will be internet research or personal interviews.

The plan is to offer this as an alternative to study hall, one day per week, per school, for maybe 10-12 weeks. The idea of giving kids an idea what they are REALLY up against, and how they could attain FIRE appeals to me.

Obviously, compound interest and steady investment have to be included. Then perhaps one day of discussion about the changing face of the job market, and how nowadays people who stay with one company their entire working life are VERY rare.

So what do YOU wish someone had taught you before you hit the REAL WORLD!?
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 09:21 AM   #2
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

Quote:
Originally Posted by retiredbop
So what do YOU wish someone had taught you before you hit the REAL WORLD!?
I wish I had known it was possible to retire early. I also wish I had known how to invest and what mutual funds, IRAs and 401ks were.

I think the typical thinking of many is that retirement is so far away I won't worry about it now. No one really talked about how long it takes and how much is needed to enable retirement.

I never had a problem with carrying too much debt, but I think many people do. The concept of paying interest vs. earning interest would be an excellent topic to explore.

Good luck with this, you are in a position to really help some young people. I look forward to other's input.

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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 09:23 AM   #3
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

Like my great-great-grandpappy used to say, "Always, no wait, never..."
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 09:29 AM   #4
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

Quote:
Originally Posted by retiredbop
So what do YOU wish someone had taught you before you hit the REAL WORLD!?
There are a lot of little things that by themselves don't mean much, but taken as a whole make you financially fit.

Some of those things include:

-LBYM
-looking for ways of improving cash intake
-basic knowledge of accounting and taxation
-knowing how to use financial calculators (future value of money)
-balancing your checkbook
-budgeting
-keeping good financial records
-personal risk assessment
-investment options
-starting your own business
-establishing your own team of experts
-setting goals
-adapting to changes
-frugal vs. cheap
-delegating your workload
-time management
-organization
-prioritizing
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 09:32 AM   #5
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

This is a great idea! I think you need to hit the real basics: budgeting, managing a checking account, managing credit cards and the dangers of credit cards, how to be a good tenant, tenant rights, automobile insurance, auto loans, mortgage loans....

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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 09:34 AM   #6
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

Just my two cents, keep it simple and to the point as your are dealing with 17-18 years olds. A first pass outline of subject matter just off the top of my head;

Taking personal responsibilty
The world does not revolve around you
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 09:46 AM   #7
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

A few non-financial things:

* Research & compare your life with those of young people in other countries/cultures

* Think about & write down what yyou think you'll be doing - and want to be doing - 6 months from now, 1 yr, 5 yrs, 10 yrs.

* Find something you love & pursue it without regard to the career fads of the time - the money will find you.

* Go 5 days without external stimuli eg iPods, tv, radio, cell phones, & other mass media - what did you do & how did you feel?

* Think about how what you do now will affect your health in the future

* Sane driving. Degfensive driving

* Respect yourself


I could go on, but run the risk of being pontifical. Besides, I have no idea how you would "teach" stuff like this.
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 09:48 AM   #8
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

Quote:
Originally Posted by retiredbop
I am considering approaching several school boards in the area with a proposal to teach an "elective" class titled "Real Life 101". Because as far as I can see NOBODY is prepping these kids for what happens outside of school and the spoon-feeding they are enjoying now.
Heck, isn't that why people join the military?

Quote:
Originally Posted by retiredbop
So I am enlisting the wisdom of the collective to assist me in creating a lesson plan. Suggestions for inclusion are being sought. But please remember that I am aiming this material at 17 and 18 year olds. There will be no books to buy, no assigned reading, and the only homework will be internet research or personal interviews.
Well, seriously then, I'd hand out free copies of Marshall Brain's "A Teenager's Guide To The Real World"-- brought to you by the same guy who runs the advertising-clogged "How Stuff Works" website.

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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 09:53 AM   #9
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

I remember someone telling me once that if I had a twin, and the twin started saving at 20 and quit at 30, and if I started saving the same amount at 30, that I would never catch up.

I may have the details wrong here, but the idea of compounding was never so clear to me as it was with this story -- I opened my first 401(k) that week.

I also saw something about the real cost of those Air Jordan shoes once you bought them with a credit card and paid them off with the minimum payment. Three times as much, or thereabouts.

As I'm sure you already know, the list of topics is likely to be boring by its nature. As important as the topic list is making sure the delivery is tailored to this attention-challenged audience.

I've been interested in this idea myself - -let us know how it goes!
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 10:21 AM   #10
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

I wish I was taught to pay close attention to older people life experience.

I wish I was taught the reality of man/woman relationship, and not the idealistic or romanticized version of it.
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 10:39 AM   #11
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

I've been thinking that a class like that ought to be mandatory. Just something that helps people get on their feet and stay there.

I seem to have turned out alright money-wise, but this was in a large part due to a high school economics class. The teacher drilled into us that the minute we got a job, we should start saving for retirement. He had us pick 10 mutual funds, read the prospectuses, and track their performance throughout the year. Then we had to build an imaginary life, by finding a place to live and a job from wanted ads, and make a basic budget. Finally we had to do taxes (and we had enough holdings in mutual funds that EZs were not an option). Separately, my parents made me write down all my expenses/income as a condition for getting my allowance, when I was much younger. None of this was fun, but it was very valuable. Once you've done something once, you're much more likely to do it for yourself because you don't have to cross the I-don't-know-how-to-do-that barrier.

On that note, I wish I'd been more involved in actually building/fixing stuff myself. My dad was always doing that, so I was exposed to the concept, but I never cared to get enough and he never really pulled me in. As a result I still somewhat have the mindset that if it's broke, you throw it away and buy a new one. I am slowly discovering that building/fixing something yourself is extremely satisfying, and not as hard as you might think.

All the finance stuff is important, but the one thing I really want to tell my niece is to not get pregnant until she's married. Nothing messes up your life more than having an unplanned child. Going back to the I-don't-know-how-to-do-that barrier, I think it's really important for people to learn how to use condoms. Have them put one on a broom handle or something. That may be wishful thinking, but at least show the opportunity cost of having a child. (As for my niece, I just don't feel close enough to her that I can talk about this subject.)

Tim
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 10:56 AM   #12
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

I own a small business and one of my slowest paying accounts is a Home Economics Teacher. She is ALWAYS on my accounts receivalbe list. Some of my best paying customers are old farmers with an 8th grade education.
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 11:04 AM   #13
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

Some ideas:

- Their US is not the same as the US of their parents/grandparents (they'll nod heads--"yeah, my folks don't understand how things are now"). Your parents and grandparents lived in a very unique period of history in vitrually the only place they could have experienced it. After WW-II virtually every other industrial economy was bombed out or flat on it's back. Also, pent-up consumer demand was astronomical. For that reason US corporations, and US workers prospered immensely. That's why a US assembly line worker with minimum skills could support a family without need for Mom to work. The rest of the world has now caught up, and are competing strongly with our industries and with our workers. For most of human existance in most of the world, low-skilled work= subsistance living with few options for upward mobility. That's where we are headed right now. If you have the same education level as your parents., don't expect that you will live nearly as well. Kids today need to figure out how to get into a line of work in which the US, and each individual, will have a competitve advantage in the world.

- Decisions and actions have consequences. Unfortunately, they'll probably be making the biggest three decisions of their life (education level, career choice, who to marry) within the next few years--when they are young. Make good decisions in these three areas, work hard, and the rest of their life will be much easier. Make a mistake and the road will be rough. "Do overs" are possible, but never as easy as doing things right the first time.
-- College: Your choice of a major and line of study impacts career options. These affect earnings. After they've learned about the cost of things (in your curriculum) and the importance of savings, they'll understand that earnings are important.

Approach: I don't have any good ideas on getting them involved, but I believe a "preaching from the pulpit" approach is sure to fail. I'd guess that the Socratic method, plenty of overhead questions to lead them in the right direction, and some games/simulations (using computers and real-world data) would be effective at keeping modern kids tuned in. Also, if you've got the law enforcement/miltary approach and a personality type that fits, consider offering them a teacher persona different from their other teachers. Think "morning shift pre-brief" rather than "let's have a seminar" atmosphere. Call them by last name instead of first name. Expect that the prep work will be done before class, and call on a few folks to answer a few questions on the previous work at the sart of class to get the blood flowing. I know some guys who teach JROTC, and they say the kids >>love<< this. Yes, it's more work than trying to be a "peer," but the kids seem to respond well to it. (Of course, the students in a JROTC class are likely the ones who would respond well to this, so it might not work as well with the general population.)

This would be a great class to teach. I do wonder if you won't get a lot of flack from parents, and resultant pressure to modify what you teach. Once Johnny and Jane start asking mom and dad about what they are doing to prepare for their future, expect the calls to the principal to begin . . . "I don't appreciate Mr Retiredbop insinuating that our family is being irresponsible. This school needs to stick to reading, writing, "rithmatic!"
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 11:11 AM   #14
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

Costs of parenthood in time, money, commitment and all that stuff up to college age. Would not have prevented my 2 children but a bit more awareness would have been helpful.

Car costs as well as insurance when irresponsible behavior affects premiums, as well as ratings on different car classes i.e. 4 door sedan vs. super cool lifted 4x4 etc. Kids to often only view the cool factor vs. safe or economical. Come to think of it... so do a lot of adults!

Food costs for healthy home cooking vs. poor nutritional fast crap. Convenience cost.

I have also thought about doing this one. Please let me know how it is recieved.
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 11:14 AM   #15
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

Perhaps a good approach would be to consider the primary threats and opportunities someone of that age is ripe to avoid/take advantage of?

Establishing credit, avoiding bad cell phone deals, how to obtain and manage a bank account, education, when to get married and have children and the financial implications of those, the troubles with consumerism, how to avoid getting into debt, etc.

I guess the keys here are to have a direct look at the 17-18 year olds you know and take note of the things that are attacking them and the things they should be doing to lay the foundation for their lives.

Rather than pound them with what would likely be a bunch of boring financial stuff...hit them with stuff thats usable, actionable and timely for their age range.

Its also a great time to tag them with stuff thats oriented around not being beholden to "the man". So while I'd avoid throwing spreadsheets at them, I'd dangle the carrot of financial independence and the benefits of living below your means.

Examples and specific details in a visual form are most critical as thats how folks at that age absorb best.

Each set of lessons should have "home work" that involves going and doing whats just been learned...get rid of the expensive cell phone plan they dont understand and get one thats less expensive but does what they need...open a checking account...establish credit and begin using it in a manner that will be beneficial to them...
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 11:39 AM   #16
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

This is great idea, Bop.

There are a lot of good ideas here, be sure to prioritize things so as not to overwhelm.

The illustration about the twins that Caroline gave is a great way to get compounding across.
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 11:39 AM   #17
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

I think the "Guide" would be a good foundation.

That age group has a 5 year time horizon, in my opinion. The goal should be to make no BIG mistakes (start a family, serious injury, get involved with the criminal justice system), keep out of debt, set realistic goals, accept the fact that their actions today lay the foundation to their future success.

At the end offer an advanced managing your money unit. I purchased The Green Magazine Guide to Personal Finance: A No B.S. Money Book for Your Twenties and Thirties for my nephews for Christmas. Their Dad told me it has already been put to use.
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 12:06 PM   #18
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

I would suggest changing the title to "Life Strategey 101" and then weave the ideas of "Real Life 101" into it.
As others have said first make it relevant to what they want to do with their lives. For example,
Describe your life at the following ages:
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
Include relationships, work, travel education, where they would like to live etc
Then have them work on a financial plan and budgeting to obtain those goals as Retire@40 suggests

Start small at the 20 to 30 age idea and then expand from there.

I think through this exercise reality will begin to sink in.
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 01:46 PM   #19
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobot
* Think about & write down what yyou think you'll be doing - and want to be doing - 6 months from now, 1 yr, 5 yrs, 10 yrs.

* Go 5 days without external stimuli eg iPods, tv, radio, cell phones, & other mass media - what did you do & how did you feel?

Oooh, I really like these two.
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"
Old 01-31-2007, 01:58 PM   #20
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Re: Let's create a "lesson plan"

Quote:
Originally Posted by retiredbop
So what do YOU wish someone had taught you before you hit the REAL WORLD!?
That people had stopped teaching me things and just gave me a rich environment and a bunch of exploratory tools. Maybe a nice toolbox, a scanning tunneling microscope, and the internet.

The secret of success: delay gratification, but not too much or for too long.
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